Q: Do I need a certain type of dietary fiber or should I just aim for the recommended total?
A: Current research most strongly supports aiming to meet recommendations for total dietary fiber, yet different types of fiber offer unique benefits. So to get the most overall health protection, include a wide variety of foods that provide dietary fiber every day.
You probably are familiar with soluble and insoluble fiber. Research has now moved forward to identifying fiber that is more specifically based on the way it seems to work in the body. Here are three major types:
Viscous fibers form a gel in the intestinal tract. These fibers can lower LDL cholesterol – known as the ‘bad’ type – and reduce blood sugar surges after meals by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates. Some evidence suggests that these gel-forming fibers may support weight management by increasing satiety.
AICR’s latest comprehensive update on colorectal cancer produced a delicious finding on how you can lower your risk for that disease. Simply swap out some refined grains, like white bread or white rice, for flavorful whole grain foods daily and you’ll create a more cancer-protective diet.
In the report, scientists found strong evidence, for the first time, that eating 90 grams (about 3 ounces) of whole grain foods daily reduces risk for colorectal cancer by 17 percent. Fewer amounts of whole grains provided some – but less – protection; greater amounts offered even more.
This may be due, the report says, to the many compounds in whole grain foods like fiber, vitamin E, selenium, lignans, phenols and others that have shown anti-cancer actions in lab studies.
The classic 1947 French tale “Stone Soup” by Marcia Brown, tells the story of three hungry soldiers visiting a village in search of food. When the soldiers were denied food by the villagers, they set about making a large pot of soup with three stones and water. The soldiers wondered if the soup might not be better with a few carrots. Hence, the villagers returned with an apron full of carrots. And what about, say, some cabbage… potatoes… barley?
The villagers contributed step by step, eventually turning that pot of stones into a wonderful meal, along with bread and cider, for the whole village.
I love that story, as it highlights how a few rustic ingredients from the garden can nourish the mind, body and soul. After all, is there anything quite as good as a hearty, vegetable-based soup? The story also shares the message of how you can make magic with ingredients that you have on hand.